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How Pokemon Yellow Revolutionized Nintendo

In the years 1999 and 2000, the Pokemon series was at its height. Young children around the world were familiar with Pikachu, Ash, Misty and Brock and of course the nefarious Team Rocket. Pokemon became so popular through a combination of the show, the trading card game, and the video game series for the Nintendo Gameboy. Pokemon Red and Blue for the Gameboy, released in 1996, allowed gamers to put themselves in the shoes of a pokemon trainer. Players roamed different worlds in search of all kinds of pokemon, battles, and missions. Pokemon Red and Blue were the foundation of the Pokemon video game series and were very successful, having been named “the Best Selling RPG of All Time.” However, Nintendo would release another installation to the series, Pokemon Yellow, 3 years later. While Pokemon Yellow had the same storyline and gameplay, it was one of the first “improved” pokemon game that helped Nintendo continue its Pokemon game series.

Pokemon Red and Blue were designed for gamers to actually become Pokemon trainers like in the show. Pokemon Yellow was the first Pokemon game to actually draw players into the show itself. In Red and Blue, players would first go to Professor Oak's lab and could only select one of three starter Pokemon (Squirtle, Bulbasaur, or Charmander). In Pokemon Yellow, players would first meet Professor Oak by the wild brush and watch him catch a wild Pikachu. Instead of having to select from the three starters, Professor Oak gives the player the Pikachu, such as he did with Ash in the show. Players could still acquire the three starts throughout various points in the game, again mimicking the show. In Pokemon Red and Blue, the rival of the game would pick the starter pokemon that is stronger than the player's starter pokemon. In Pokemon Yellow, the rival gets an Evee, implying that he is Gary Oak, Ash's rival in the show. Finally, Pokemon Yellow puts gamers right into the show because in this version, Pikachu is stubborn and will not stay in its Pokeball. Instead, it will follow the player around on the screen just like Pikachu follows Ash around in the show by hanging onto his backpack. Next, Pokemon Yellow integrated Team Rocket into a game a little more properly. In each Pokemon game, not only do players have a rival trainer but they also have Team Rocket, a crooked gang of Pokemon trainers, as a rival. In Pokemon Red and Blue, Team Rocket is made up of generic characters called “Rocket Grunts” until players make it to Giovanni, the 8th gym member. Pokemon Yellow introduces Jessie, James, and Meowth, the three main members of Team Rocket into the game, giving it a more unique feel. The sprites of the characters are made to look just like how they are in the show and they follow the player around throughout the world. Other characters in the game who were modified to be more realistic include Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny. Surprisingly, Nintendo did not develop Pokemon Yellow to be so close to the show that Brock and Misty join the player on his journey.

Pokemon Yellow was particularly profitable for Nintendo not only due to its similarity to the show but also due to its marketing and promotion. Consumers were given the option to purchase the game in a bundle that included a limited edition yellow Pokemon-themed Gameboy handheld system. It was also scheduled to be released around the release of Pokemon: The Movie, which gave it a boost in sales. The were 150,000 pre-orders of the game and when it was released, many stores were not able to keep up their stock with the demand for the game, ultimately leading to an apology by Nintendo. One week after its release, over 1 million copies of Pokemon Yellow were sold, causing it to become one of the fastest selling games of all time. Pokemon Yellow is still in demand in the year 2013. Copies can be found on eBay, Amazon, and other third-party buyer/seller websites. Grown-up fans still mention the game on social media here and there.

Pokemon Yellow was one of the first video games to become an anime-to-video-game adaption. After the success of Pokemon Yellow, Nintendo produced many other games that they could pair with a book, movie, or TV show, such as the Yu-Gi-Oh video game line. They knew it would be a smart move after seeing how well Pokemon Yellow did on the market. Nintendo has made many great and memorable games that have brought in plenty of revenue and publicity but Pokemon Yellow is definitely one that fans of all ages will remember. Although it has been 14 years since its official release, Pokemon Yellow has proven to have been a revolutionary step for the success of Nintendo.